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Michelle Shocked: One Stray Shell Is All it Takes

She was coming up at the same time as Tracy Chapman, The Indigo Girls and other artists who, if not members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered communities themselves, were positioning themselves as nonjudgemental allies. Shocked's aesthetic played into certain lesbian tropes and stereotypes, but her quote in a 1990 issue of Chicago'sOutLines about having a "woman lover" led even reasonably broad-minded followers to believe she was perhaps not so straight.

After becoming a born-again Christian in recent years, however, that view shifted. She is on her second marriage to a man and told the Dallas Voice that "I've been avoiding interviews with gay press -- I'm going to kill my publicist." Still, when asked whether she'd consider being cited as an "honorary lesbian," she said "I'd be honored."


At least that was the message she gave her LGBT followers. When it came to her newfound Christian friends at places like the Wild Goose Festival in 2011, however, her response when asked about her "position on homosexuality" was a bit different: "Who drafted me as a gay icon? I'm the world's greatest homophobe. Ask God what he thinks."

Though that quote didn't sneak its way out of the Christian music ecosystem, her words at Yoshi's flew out over the same Twitter feeds she'd recently come to embrace and, in recent days, hide behind. She Tweeted from stage, she Tweeted through her interview no-show with Sandler and dropped her Twitter handle during the Spin interview.

As much as social media gives companies, it can take it away just as easily. Shocked stepped in a bit of quicksand and, instead of calling for help and grabbing for the nearest vine, started spinning her legs Wile-E-Coyote style and sinking deeper and deeper. Unfortunately, this is a bad time to run short on Acme products. According to a Washington Post-ABC poll released earlier this week, 58% of Americans believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry, up from 37% a decade ago. The Pew Center says 14% have changed their minds about gay marriage because a friend or relative is gay.

Meanwhile, companies including Aetna (AET), Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMY), Diageo (DEO), eBay, Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Marriott (MAR) have signed on with the Business Coalition For DOMA Repeal to help turn back the 1996 law saying marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. Meanwhile, both Intel (INTL) and UPS (UPS) have pulled their donations to the Boy Scouts of America to protest troops that discriminate against gay scouts.

If Shocked couldn't read those coffeehouse tea leaves, maybe she should have taken notice of another similar incident that occurred back when her videos were still getting sporadic MTV airplay. In 1991, Skid Row lead singer Sebastian Bach drew fire for taking the stage in a shirt that read "AIDS: Kills Fags Dead." Bach was fronting a hair metal band at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and the macho guys in makeup not named Rob Halford weren't too keen on gay rights or LGBT causes.

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